A lot of people will seek out a proofreader when they need a piece of writing to be perfect, but a lot of the time a proofreader is not exactly what they are looking for. Here, I will outline the differences between proofreading and copy-editing so that you have a better idea what it is that you are looking for.
Proofreading vs editing
Proofreading is perhaps the more well-known term and hence I will start with a description of what proofreading is. Proofreading involves checking for errors in spelling and punctuation to ensure that a piece of writing is completely error free. Proofreading involves ensuring that the English is consistent throughout – be it British English or American English – and ensuring that items like italics and bold are used appropriately. When proofreading academic papers or dissertations, a proofreader can ensure that the style guide is adhered too, including that the referencing style is correct. Proofreading doesn’t really go beyond this so if you are looking for something more, you are looking for a copy-edit rather than a proofread.
Copy-editing covers pretty much everything that doesn’t fall under the proofreading umbrella, and for that reason it is actually the part of my job I enjoy the most. Copy-editors will provide more suggestions regarding wording, ensuring the best words are chosen for the audience. They will also flag up repetition and wordiness and provide suggestions for writing more succinctly. A copy-edit can also include highlighting the suitability of word choices and phrasing for particular audiences. Copy-editors will also alert to potential plagiarism if it is obvious, although this is not the responsibility of a copy-editor.
So, how do you decide if you need a proofread or a copy-edit? If you are not a native speaker, you most likely will need some level of copy-editing, to ensure you have used sensible words and kept sentences succinct. Proofreading tends to be the final stage rather than the only stage and will usually happen after a piece of work has already been copy-edited and the author has accepted the changes. However, do not worry, as this is not a decision you need to make for yourself at Final Read. We require a sample of your work to provide a fixed quote. Upon seeing a sample of your work, we can advise on what your needs are, and ask you how far you would like a copy-edit to go.
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